Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light

January 01, 1970

(Double Six/Fat




Once fueled by his love of mind-bending drugs and the
guttural aplomb of the Velvets and the Stooges, guitarist/singer/composer Jason
Pierce made Spiritualized in a densely layered and airy embrace of punk
primitivism.  Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space became classic for
its detached primeval yawn and lovely yet spooky distaff symmetry – an
orchestrally maneuvered wave of dreamily open, smugly complex yet somehow
claustrophobic sound. Near-death illnesses toward the end of the 2000s left
Pierce with a deep voice and a deeper understanding of the human condition
through which 2008’s Songs in A&E and this year’s Sweet Heart Sweet Light sprouted.


Known for his expanses of heavy psychedelic crème
and aerated foam, Pierce crunched his usual sound into something blunter and
poppier this time out. Sweet Heart‘s
melancholy tunes are still grand, their orchestras soaring and their choruses
rousing, even Phil Spector-orian in the epic kink, but they’re more tightly
wound than on previous efforts. The ambient hum of “Huh?” is like a man waking
well from a nightmare sickness only to find the love of his life (the Lou
Reed-like “Hey Jane”) and self-realization (the cocky gospel-ish “I Am What I
Am”) for his troubles. The blues are bluer and the holy modal modes are rounder
and the pleas for Jesus’ aid ripe if not entirely believable in his disbelief; Pierce
is no Christian, judging from our recent chat for the upcoming print issue of
BLURT, but he is clearly is looking Upward rather than outward for answers.


Some of his lyrics are dumb and his observations
on immortality naïve, but it’s hard not to root for a man who, on the soaring
“Life’s A Problem” and the glammy “So Long You Pretty Things,” seeks God’s
salvation. “Sometimes I wish that I was dead,” he moans on
“Little Girl,” adding, “”cause only the living can feel the
pain.” Lyrics like that may seem, on the surface, trite, knowing what he’s
been through, health-wise. Then again, on the new album’s most yearningly
romantic ballad, “Too Late,” he stretches himself to find redemption in love: “This
is dedicated baby, what more can I say?/ I won’t love you more than I love you
today/ And I won’t love you less, but I’ve made my mistakes/ Stay away from
love, dear, if that’s what it takes.”


Can I get an Amen for love? Can Pierce? 


DOWNLOAD: “Too Late,” “So
Long You Pretty Things,” “Headin’ for the Top Now” A.D. AMOROSI


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